Thursday 24 January 2013

Get Out And About

Fearns Wharf

I have spent today at Fearns Wharf. The scene is beautiful but bleak. Not just because of the weather but because this is a valuable asset operating at well below its potential. 

How do we use lessons learnt elsewhere to ensure that the waterways support the social and economic recovery within our cities?

The wealth of experience within the Partnership Board is evident when they look at the region from the Tees to South Yorkshire, examining the significant issues and barriers, but also exploring the opportunities and big ideas for increasing use and engagement. We have to balance the tensions created between managing the current assets whilst looking to the future. 

On a personal level, this left me thinking:  
How does Canal Connections demonstrate that the importance of our work through the waterways is not just about the well being of the waterways but that it is also about creating vitality for the benefit of people, the majority of whom face personal challenges in their everyday lives.

How do we manage the current assets whilst looking to the future?

How do we manage aspiration? 

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Reflections: DYCA Santa Cruises!

The highlight of last year was the DYCA Santa Cruises. 
We provided 12 families with a canal experience culminating in a trip to Santa's Grotto to receive their present. They were escorted by young ambassadors (from the very first day of the Horse Boat Project). Performing Arts students dressed in a 1940’s theme to show what it would have been like in the war at Christmas. I am delighted to say that these students are now wanting to do more on the waterways.
Volunteers staffed the boats, moorers set up the grotto, cakes were baked and refreshments provided for the guests. Most rewarding was the comments, not just from the children but from the adults too:
A support worker, through her emotional tears said,He does not engage, but here he is loving the canal and smiling for a camera!
A moorer said,I have been on the canal for 9 years and this is the most wonderful community – I want to be involved.
Museum Staff, This is brilliant – to transform a shed into a grotto!
Volunteers,We should be doing this all year round!
School staff,This is the best grotto I have ever seen!
Family support worker, "What a brilliant site – we could do so much here.”

Reflections: Welcome To Thwaite Mills

Thwaite Mills is our home. We came here with signs saying “Welcome to Thwaite Mills” alongside an empty pontoon saying ‘Private – No Mooring.” 
The pontoon is now filled with 8 boats and the canal is starting to come to life. The Museum is a haven for both Heritage and Nature – connected to a similar haven at Armley Mills Industrial Museum by a heritage infrastructure. It has created the inspiration for the Heritage Canal Zone project of “Learning through the Waterways.”

Reflecting on Developments

Last year saw a mammoth development at Canal Connections which is usually indicative of a multitude meetings but we now have:
An office
An operating base
3 boats
A core of volunteers
A core of young ambassadors
Interest locally, nationally and internationally of our work
Very exciting times!

Reflections: Welcome To Moyes!

I remember meeting Alan Bolton and introducing him to the waterways. He was captured by the potential and how it could help him in his work. 
I shared my fears and he said, “You can have a space at Moyes. I’ll introduce you to the JDI club.” 
That one introduction has led to a multitude of introductions which is usually started by, “What do you do?”
I now just introduce myself as Trevor the Boat and they immediately respond, “Alan has told us all about you” and no more needs to be said. 
The Moyes is a fantastic place because it is filled with activity to support people. Organisation reps use it to share concerns and come up with solutions.
I have now joined the JDI (Just do it )club. !!

Reflecting on the Horse Boat Project

Horse Drawn: By Yvonne Roberts

I love this image. It evokes so many thoughts.
I see Sue trying to maintain the heritage and traditions of the Canal. Taking a horse drawn boat along the Leeds – Liverpool canal for the first time in 60 years. The event started in Leeds on a very wet miserable day. The event was unheralded and passed without recognition other than a very small party of hardy volunteers.
I remember my fear of coming to Leeds. I did not know anyone, I was on my own, I did not know the area, I was frightened of working on a river, I did not have an office and I did not have a boat !!!
I remember that the Horse Boat Project introduced a group of young people to the waterways. They contributed over 250 hours of activity which included cutting back saplings to prevent the horse boat snagging, learning about lock operating, learning something of the history and techniques of horse boating, filming the event, walking from Leeds to Bradford over 3 days in order to set the locks and acting as guides at World Heritage day.

Reflections of Last Year

 Image by: Yvonne Roberts, captured during the Multi-Story Water Performances at Shipley in Sept 2012

The New Year is a great time for reflection. 
And throughout January I have been doing just that – reflecting on the year gone by and making plans for the year ahead. Over the next few posts I would like to share with you some of the thoughts, feelings and ideas I have been mulling over…Please keep checking back!